National Breastfeeding Month
Breastfeeding, work, and milk donation: Making it work … and then some
By Naomi Bar-Yam, Ph.D., Executive Director, MMBNE
In 2014, HMBANA certified milk banks dispensed 3.77 million ounces of milk from over 6,800 donors from all over the US and Canada. Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast dispensed 199,440 ounces of milk, donated by 418 donors, from 21 states. Though we do not ask mothers their employment status, it is estimated that about half of our donors are employed outside their homes as they are caring for their children and finding the time for this unique volunteer activity. Each of our donors has a story of why she chose to donate milk to others, who supported her efforts and how she did it. Thanks to all the moms who shared their stories, you are an inspiration to all of us.
This month, we celebrated World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month by focusing on Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make It Work with some stories and strategies of our wonderful donor moms. Floor nurse Nichole Selliquini shares her story which highlights some of our moms’ common experiences.
Donating breastmilk while breastfeeding and working as a floor nurse was a challenging yet empowering experience. It was important to me to provide for my baby as well as other babies in need. The first time I left my baby and had to pump was in my car in a parking lot; the things you will do for your baby!
Many of our donors work in health care settings, where colleagues and workplace understand the value of milk donation, but carving out time away from their duties to pump is still sometimes a challenge.
When I got back to work, my employer had just opened the lactation room on our floor. It was nothing fancy: a table, a chair, a few blankets, a sink, some sanitizing wipes, and a fridge. I cannot imagine going to work without this room. After hearing other people’s stories, I realize that I am fortunate to have a safe and comforting place to pump. The hospital I work for even provided a pump.
Support of coworkers and partners is so important for all moms, employed, breastfeeding, milk donating moms included. Thanks to all, coworkers, spouses, grandparents, and others who support our donors. You are all saving lives and promoting breastfeeding!
My coworkers were comfortable with me taking short breaks to go pump. I would not have been able to successfully donate milk while working without them! While at home, I had the support of my husband, who helped me by assisting in storing and organizing my supply. Ultimately, when I finally built up enough supply to donate and drive it to the milk bank, I was overwhelmed by the feeling of love, joy, and life that entered my heart. I am so thankful that other babies can benefit from all the mothers out there that are willing make such a huge donation.
Our milk donors and recipients rarely get to meet personally, sharing stories and photos is the closest we get. This month we did it in connection with these important annual awareness raising events but we love hearing from our donor and recipient families any time.
Please share your stories, send them to Ann Marie Lindquist, Director of Community Relations. With your permission, we’ll share them on our website and through social media.